Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence

A project run by a group of NHS professionals, researchers and survivors is hoping to improve the support provided to those who have suffered sexual violence and help them take back their voice. But they need your help.

Share Researchers from the Complex Trauma and Resilience Research Unit are empowering sexual violence survivors to take back their voice and drive innovation in health care Share on X One in ten people in the UK have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16, meaning four million people in the UK have been affected Share on X You can help survivors of sexual violence take back their voice and drive future research, improving the way health services support survivors, by sponsoring the #SVPSP now Share on X

1 in 10 people in the UK have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 and consequently have to live with the daily struggle of the physical and emotional impact.

This can have a significant impact on both the physical and mental wellbeing of survivors. Some survivors report suffering from post-traumatic stress, other mental health difficulties, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and an inability to work or study.

Despite these considerable effects, there is still very little research around this area, and there are still fundamental uncertainties on research priorities with regards to the best way to support survivors.

The Project

A team of medical professionals, survivors, researchers and students from Manchester, working together with the James Lind Alliance, are creating a Sexual Violence Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) to try and answer some of these questions.

“We want to put survivors in the driving seat so they can steer future research on their health and ensure that health services are more accessible and appropriate to their needs” Dr Filippo Varese, a clinical psychologist who researches the mental health impact of sexual trauma and the Director of the Complex Trauma and Resilience Research Unit.

PSPs allow clinicians, patients and survivors to work together and identify areas of uncertainty that can be answered with research. This can then help direct future research to the areas that need it the most.

Previously created PSPs on other conditions have led to cutting-edge research, improving countless lives.

The project will begin by reaching out to survivors and health professionals via social media and online surveys to identify important questions regarding the best support. Then, sexual violence survivors and healthcare professionals, such as doctors and therapists, will come together to decide the top 10 most important unanswered questions that further research should examine.

Dr Majeed-Ariss explains “There’s limited research funding into sexual violence. This PSP will not only identify the most important questions and channel funding towards this research but will also increase visibility of the topic”

The priorities will directly influence major UK funders such as the National Institute of Health Research thereby prompting improvements in interventions for survivors.

Crowdfunding Help

Although health professionals can usually take part in these projects as part of their job, project participants such as a survivor will incur costs.

“The team feels strongly about empowering survivors. All the funding we receive will be used to cover the costs of meetings and enable the involvement of survivors by covering costs they incur such as travel expenses, childcare expenses and loss of income” Dr Rabiya Majeed-Ariss, a health researcher in the area of sexual violence, says.

Through contributions from The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the team have already raised half of the money necessary for the project to take place, but unfortunately there are currently no major UK charities that specifically support projects about sexual violence or abuse.

As survivor involvement is so crucial, the team must find a way to subsidise these costs for survivors in order for this important initiative to proceed.

So, the team have turned to the University’s crowdfunding site to try and raise these funds so that the project can go ahead.

The site aims to connect staff, researchers and students from The University of Manchester to university alumni and other supporters to raise money for a variety of projects.

This project has already raised an impressive £1,550 – 20% of its overall target.  However, the project’s target is £7,680, meaning the team need your help to improve the lives of the many people affected by sexual violence.

What’s more, if the project surpasses its minimum target, the team have pledged to use the funds to employ a lived experience researcher who will work on reaching a broader number of survivors and spreading the PSP priorities to relevant parties.

“We hope to impact future research by ensuring that the focus is on questions that are identified by survivors rather than other groups.”

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